Tyrexpo Africa – The Signs are Looking Good
The inaugural Tyrexpo Africa exhibition will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, from 12 – 14 September and is the latest event in the portfolio of ECI International, following on from Tyrexpo Asia (based in Singapore) and Brityrex International (UK).
Tyres & Accessories spoke to ECI International Director Rowena Suthers about the new show – why, for instance had they decided on South Africa as the base for an exhibition? The answer was that, to a great extent, the show was the result of demand from exhibitors. “We are constantly engaged in discussions with our exhibitors and visitors to the shows in Singapore and the UK,” said Suthers, “and it became plain that many of them were keen to make inroads into the various African markets and would welcome a showcase event. Indeed, many of the visitors to Tyrexpo Asia hailed from Africa and suggested that the time was ripe for a similar event back home.”
The next step was to see whether any similar events existed and to narrow down the choice of venue. South Africa offered the infrastructure and accessibility required for an international show and, in the Sandton Convention Centre, a recognised exhibition venue. Rowena Suthers again: “We found out that there was no existing independent tyre trade show being held in the region and, with the growing interest in the tyre sector in Africa, we regarded this as an opportunity to move into a new market.”
From day one, ECI International was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by companies in the region; “The support that we have had since announcing the launch shows that the timing is right for the exhibition,” commented Rowena Suthers. And not just support from the tyre industry either, as a great deal of interest has been shown by the press – and not just the specialist tyre press, as Rowena Suthers revealed that press passes had also been requested from fleet publications as well as automobile titles and transport and logistics magazines from across Africa.
So how does Tyrexpo Africa slot into the ECI portfolio? Is it on a par with the other two exhibitions, or should it be regarded as a parochial event, based in, and majoring on, the African market? Suthers is adamant that Tyrexpo Asia is a truly international event, pointing out that over 25 countries are represented among the 100+ exhibitors, with representatives from Asia, north and south America and various European countries. The global nature of the tyre industry is emphasised by the fact that some of the exhibitors attend all three ECI-organised shows, illustrating that they regard the world as their market.
Another factor in favour of Tyrexpo Africa is that, for a first time trade exhibition, it is comparatively large, with exhibitors in three figures and over 5,000 square metres of stand space. Normally, as was the case with Tyrexpo Asia for example, the first show is a “toe in the water” job, with some companies waiting to see how things go before committing themselves to future events. Not so Tyrexpo Africa, which has been openly welcomed from the start with companies signing up in a steady stream.
As said earlier, Tyrexpo Africa is the third event under the ECI banner, so can we expect to see other exhibitions in coming years? “We are always on the lookout for ‘unexplored territories’ – places where there is a sizeable tyre industry and no dedicated exhibition – but we have no concrete plans for expansion at the moment,” said Rowena Suthers, adding: “We have been kept busy dealing with the positive reactions to Tyrexpo Africa.”
Despite this enthusiasm, ECI International is still cautious and not counting any chickens too early. When asked if Tyrexpo Africa would become a regular event, Rowena Suthers agreed that the early signs were “very encouraging” and that the plan was to make it a biennial show, but she stressed that no final decision would be taken until the show was over and the results fully discussed and evaluated. Having said that, the team at ECI must be secretly delighted at the way that their African debut seems to have caught the imagination of the tyre trade, both locally and further afield, and, if early indications are anything to go by, then this year’s event will surely be the first of many in the region.